While courts often assess high damages for commercial piracy of combat sports Pay Per View programming maximum damages are uncommonly awarded. In a rare example of the latter, reasons for judgement were published earlier this month by the US District Court, M.D. Georgia, Macon division doing exactly that.
In the recent case (Joe Hand Promotions, Inc. v. Bahama Bob’s Country Club, LLC) the Defendants displayed a combat sports pay per view program at a commercial establishment without purchasing the sub-licensing rights to do so. The Plaintiff sued and requested maximum statutory damages. The Defendant failed to respond to the lawsuit and default judgement was granted. In an example of ‘ask and ye shall receive‘ the Court provided the following sparse reasons awarding $110,000 in total damages for the piracy:
Any person or entity aggrieved by any violation of this statute may be awarded actual or statutory damages “at the election of the aggrieved party.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i). Statutory damages awarded by any court for a violation of subsection (a) of § 605 must not be “less than $1,000 or more than $10,000.” 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(i)(II). Statutory damages awarded by any court for a violation of paragraph (4) of § 605 must not be “less than $10,000 or more than $100,000.” Id. If the court finds that the violation was committed willfully and for financial gain, it may award additional damages not to exceed $100,000 for each statutory violation. 47 U.S.C. § 605(e)(3)(C)(ii). Defendants in such actions are not entitled to a jury trial with respect to statutory damages. J & J Sports Prods., Inc.,491 F. App’x at 963.
Given Bahama Bob’s violations of subsection (a) and paragraph (4) of § 605 and its failure to respond to the Plaintiff’s Complaint, the Court finds appropriate an award of the statutory maximums of each violation totaling $110,000.